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How to Pray for the Complete Person

As children, we prayed, “God bless Mom and God bless Dad. God bless Aunt Susie. God bless my friend Elizabeth …” But as adults, we need to go farther than that. A lot farther. But sometimes, we just don’t know what to pray.

A large part of our confusion about what to pray for stems from the fact that we rarely look beyond the obvious. When someone is sick, we pray for healing. That’s it. When someone is in financial need, we pray that they get money. Then we stop.

But this kind of praying is shallow at best. We forget that, as humans, all aspects of our lives are interrelated. Rarely do we have a need in one area alone: rather, when we have a problem in one part of our lives, everything else is often affected, too. Therefore, to pray wisely for each other, we need to replace our one-sentence prayers with prayers for the complete person.

Here is a checklist of six major areas to pray for when you are considering the people on your prayer list:

Physical. If a person is experiencing difficulties in one area of life, be sure to pray for their physical health, since our bodies react instantly and often severely to stress or trauma. Even if you don’t know for certain that a person is having physical symptoms due to a problem, imagine for a moment what physical effects you might be experiencing if you were in their situation, and pray accordingly.

Emotional. Our emotions are always involved whenever we experience problems in life. Be certain to pray for such things as comfort, steadiness, and hope. If the problem is serious or long-term, you may also want to pray that the person receives quality emotional counseling and the benefit of an emotional support team. Emotions are powerful and volatile. They must be included in our prayers.

Mental. Don’t forget the mind. Everything we do and say in life is the product of our mind and thought. For that reason, be sure to pray that during difficulties people have the grace to think carefully and clearly, that they will have good advice and counsel from others, and that they would be able to make wise decisions.

Relational. Nobody lives in isolation. Pray for the relationships the person is engaged in: for peace where there is conflict, for true and godly friendships, for increased communication skills, for the ability to forgive when hurt, etc.

Financial. Money can cause tremendous anxiety and difficulty. Pray for people’s financial situations: that they would be able to earn a good living, spend wisely, invest for the future, and give generously.

Spiritual. Finally, never neglect praying for the person’s spiritual well-being. For faith to conquer doubt, for love of God and others, for the fruit of the Spirit to be manifest in the person’s life, for a full and complete knowledge of God, and more. The spirit is our ultimate foundation, and requires significant and serious prayer.

Consider this example: suppose a couple is having marriage difficulties:

  • You will probably start by praying for their relational needs: communication skills, conflict resolution, forgiveness, etc.

  • But don’t stop there. Reflect on their finances: could money struggles be contributing to their marital conflict? Are there job issues involved? Spending habits? Debts?

  • How about their physical health? Could insomnia, muscular tension, migraines, or stomach ulcers be resulting from their continual arguments?

  • Consider their emotional state: are they suffering from severe anxiety, from anger management problems, or from despair and hopelessness?

  • What about their mental activities? Are they thinking through the situation clearly? Do major decisions need to be made? Whom are they relying on for advice and counsel?

  • What of their spiritual health? Are their marriage difficulties the result of spiritual backsliding? Is one partner slipping away from the faith while the other remains strong? Has sin or apathy crept into one or both of their hearts?

When you pray in this way, considering every aspect of a person’s life, you will find that your prayer life intensifies. You will gain new insights and understanding into the issues at hand. You will grow in the areas of compassion and love. And, most of all, God will answer.

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